Landspeed events require long, straight and flat locations to be run safely and to be eligible to set records. Here are some of the locations in New Zealand and around the World that have been used to host events and set records.
New Zealand locations
Goudies Road – This forestry road near Reporoa, halfway between Rotorua and Taupo in the Bay of Plenty has around 7km of straight, flat tarseal. The road was constructed to a very high standard to handle a high volume of logging trucks, but has seen little of the traffic it was designed for. At 7m wide, it’s around a meter wider than most roads in New Zealand, and unusually for New Zealand it’s constructed with hot mix (asphalt) rather than chip seal. It has no cats eyes, it isn’t a through road and has very few residents on it, making it possibly New Zealand’s best road for landspeed trials. It is where Ray Williams in March 1996 and Owen Evans in June 1996 each set the outright landspeed record for New Zealand.
Canal West Road – A rural road near Waitakaruru in the Waikato region. This road was used by Dr Rodger Freeth to successfully set New Zealand’s outright landspeed record in 1993. Ray Williams considered this road for his 1996 record attempt, but ruled it out due to bumps. Ray Williams also considered Canal East Road (which runs parallel to it, with the two separated by a canal) before settling on Goudies Road for his attempts.
Ohakea Air Base – A RNZAF air base near Bulls in the Manawatu, it hosts New Zealand’s third longest runway at 2.4km (after the international airports at Auckland and Christchurch). It was the venue Eddie Freeman used to set the record for the Flying Kilometer in 2012.
Oreti Beach – Oreti Beach near Invercargill in Southland has long been used for racing, and Burt Munro set several 1/2 mile records there in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It is still used for racing today, and is part of the annual Burt Munro challenge.
Many venues are used around the World for landspeed racing, most being either airport runways or dried up lakebeds. The runways tend to be military ones (often disused) while the lake beds are a mix of dirt or salt flats. The most famous salt flats are the Bonneville Salt flats in America but Lake Gairdner in Australia also hosts annual events. El Mirage (also in America) is a dirt lake bed which is used several times a year for speed events. Black Rock desert is another dirt venue used for record attempts but it’s surface isn’t suited to multiple runs so this tends to only be used occasionally by big-budget teams chasing the outright world record.
Airports are also popular venues for landspeed racing, with many in the United States, the UK and Europe being used to hold events with a long run up (normally between 1 and 1.5miles) and a short timed section. These may be disused ex-military air strips or active airports.